11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Don't call this book "Scholarship",
This review is from: Lehi in the Desert & the World of the Jaredites (Hardcover)If you think this is a good book, then don't check out Nibley's sources or you will be sorely disappointed. I'll provide some abused sources found in just two pages (pages 212-213) of Nibley's book. In the following, Nibley is trying to justify Book of Mormon statements about the Jaredites having steel swords and glass windows in 2000 BC. Remember all of the following mistatements are found in a mere two pages of Nibley's book.
1. Nibley uses an article by Wainwright about the "Coming of Iron." In speaking of an artifact from Egypt as being "steel," Nibley says "the tanslation is not absolutely certain..." Wainwright says "the translation is entirely guesswork." These descriptions are not equivalent. Also Wainwright says the use of iron before 1500 BC was extremely rare. On page 122, Nibley carelessly (and deliberately) uses the word "steel" in place of "iron" in his use of Wainwright's essay.
2. Nibley quotes Vernadsky on the "History of Ancient Russia," but before his quotation about clans of iron workers, Nibley puts in his own bizarre theory that steel was "used in one place and forbidden in another." Nibley makes it sound like his source supports that screwball "forbidden" theory. Vernadsky (see page 43) does not.
3. Nibley quotes from an article by D. B. Harden about ancient glass, but fails to mention that Harden says that glass in ancient times was as valuable gold and rubies. According to the article, colorless glass was not made until the 2nd century AD. Nibley ignored the sense of Harden's article in trying to get not just glass beads, but clear glass windows into 2000 BC.
4. Nibley says steel "objects" were found at Darmesteter. His source says "one object" was found. Then Nibley speaks of the "correct chemical formula" for steel. This is misleading because an "analysis" is not a "formula." In other words, steel can be make accidentally by the addition of carbon to iron. Nibley twice uses "formula" in place of "analysis."
5. Nibley says that "steel comes before iron in the four ages of Zarathustra." That is true, but these religious ages are listed by moral "value," not as indicating actual history. There are "gold" and "silver" ages, for example. Also Zarathustra dates from 600 BC, not 2000 BC. Nibley goes on to talk about "the Seljuk dynasty of Iran" without saying that he is talking about 1071 AD.
6. Nibley mentions an ancient steel "bow" without noting that a "steel bow" is found in the Bible in II Samuel. Any honest discussion of the Book of Mormon steel bow should also mention II Samuel.
On these two pages, Nibley gives the reader a snowstorm of facts and falsehoods that feel good, but prove nothing about Jaredite windows and steel swords.
If you take all these references and sources, and there are many more in Nibley's book, you have a line of argument that only impresses the uninformed, or the reader who doesn't bother to actually check Nibley's sources.
In a chapter about the Jaredites, for example, Nibley goes on about ancient steel and glass windows, but makes no attempt to justify the existence of the wooden (!) Jaredite submarines of 2000 BC (344 days in the ocean). Windows and steel weapons are a minor issue compared to the issue of submarines in 2000 BC, which Nibley completely ignores.
Nibley's work is not scholarly, but simply emotional, religious propaganda. He says that critics believe that Joseph Smith was an "ignorant rustic who could hardly write his name" (page 128).
This is simply false. Joseph Smith was an admitted Bible reader from age twelve. He also claimed to have read and translated the gold plates. His father had been a school teacher, and his brother Hyrum was on the Manchester school board. His mother was proud that all her children could read and write (though Joseph's handwriting was not the best). The Smiths even took the local newspaper.
Nibley is, in fact, insulting the prophet by making him so stupid he could not compose the Book of Mormon. There has got to be a better defense of the Book of Mormon than that. The informed reader of Nibley's books will come to the conclusion that he "doth protest too much."
I can't end without this quote from page 153 of Nibley's book. "The only weapons that have survived from prehistoric times are far more suited to their purpose than a modern rifle. The deadliest of all hunting weapons remains to this day the stone-headed (not steel-headed arrow)." Parenthesis by Nibley. Modern rifle and bow hunters raise your hand if you believe this! Nibley's weird theories should be an embarrassment to educated Mormons.
Needless to say, a person who has a lot of footnotes in his or her book is not necessarily a scholar. As the modern historian Will Durant said: "The cleverest defenders of a faith are its greatest enemies because their subtleties engender doubt and stimulate the mind." No sentence could apply more perfectly to Hugh Nibley.
Added example of a misrepresented source:
In "Since Cumorah" (pages 62-63), Nibley writes about the ancient copper scroll containing the Book of Isaiah.
"The business of writing on such plates was hard and distasteful work....Writing on plates requires a cramped and abbreviated script, Moroni explains...and Allegro also notes the writing on copper plates actually produces a new kind of writing that is particularly difficult to read, characterized by mixing forms of letters, ignoring the proper spacing between words, "running-over from one line to the next in the middle of a word," and general neglect of the vowels.
"A greater deficiency lies in ourselves," Allegro concludes, "we simply do not possess a sufficiently comprehensive technical Hebrew vocabulary to deal with a text of this kind." This should have a sobering effect on those people who fondly suppose the if we could only discover some Nephite plates, the translation could be left to them: this sort of things needs an Urim and Thummin, indeed."
Now, read the following and ask yourself if Nibley was honest with his source?
His source is "The Treasure of the Copper Scroll," by John Marco Allegro (an expert).
A. Allegro says that the scroll is in Hebrew and readable (though with some overlapping of words, pp. 27-28). In fact, Allegro provided a facsimile of the entire scroll. On one page is the scroll, and the opposite page is Hebrew writing with the English translation next to it. ALLEGRO DOES NOT SAY THAT WRITING ON PLATES PRODUCES A NEW KIND OF WRITING. In fact, he says, "A comparable fault in modern uneducated writing might be the mixing of small and capital letters, although there the diffence would not be so marked as, for instance, when our scribe writs a cursive `aleph" for the normal square-shaped. (letter).
B. FACT: The copper scroll was translated by normal means by people who were experts in Hebrew.
C. Allegro writes (following Nibley's selected quotes) that: "Happily in our scroll there are no true verbs, where alone vowelling might make a crucial difference to the interpretation. Whilst, therefore, we need not be unduly concerned about the lack of vowel signs in our text...Again, once aware of this failing (or device) on the part of our scribe, we can still recognize the word for what it is. A greater deficiency lies in ourselves....(Note, this sentence quoted by Nibley. He ignored what preceded it).
D. Nibley has implied that an Urim and Thummin would be needed to translate the scroll, and he has totally distorted the sense of what Allegro was saying.
It is also worth noting that if what Nibley says is true about a "cramped and abbreviated style of writing," then it is highly unlikely that any chiastic structures would survive a translation. (Mormons claim that "chiasmus"--parallel sentences are in the Book of Mormon as a result of such practices in ancient times. They carefully delete words, however, to produce these examples of chiasmus).
Your comments--positive or negative--are appreciated. Thanks.
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Showing 1-10 of 26 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 5, 2008 8:55:26 AM PDT
David Rasch says:
This is the type of review which adds to understanding the author and their topic. It is very important not to confuse faith with fact. Each has its place and its value to each reader.
In reply to an earlier post on May 6, 2008 10:12:36 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 11, 2008 1:42:27 AM PST]
Posted on Sep 3, 2011 9:16:22 AM PDT
Michael G. Murphy says:
The reviewer appears to be a disenchanted member of the LDS faith. As such, his reviews should be read in this light. What other type of individual has time to write such a detailed review wherein he supposedly checks the authors sources and goes on to complain that the author does not quote the source to HIS satisfaction? The hard fact is the reviewer is attempting to justify his unwillingness to accept the incontrovertible truth that the LDS faith is what it purports to be: the only true church of Jesus Christ. Take his statements with a grain of salt, smile and shake your head at the reviewers silly attempts to kick against the pricks.
In my prior correspondence with Wanderer he has failed to respond to the points brought up in my own comments. I don't expect anything but more anti-Mormon propaganda from this individual.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 3, 2011 10:05:41 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 3, 2011 10:06:45 AM PDT
Murphy is not being truthful in saying that I would not respond to his posts. I did. All he is doing is defending Dr. Nibley at all costs, including his own intellectual integrity. He appears to have more of an emotional stake in Dr. Nibley's books than in his own religion.
Honest readers will agree that it is a big deal when an author distorts or misquotes his sources. But to Murphy, it is no big deal. As you can see by reading his response, it is Murphy who is not responding to my specific criticisms. He does not, will not, and cannot go there because he knows it would shake his faith in Dr. Nibley (a man, it should be said).
Thank you for being open-minded enough to at least read the following:
Murphy said nothing to refute any statement I made about Dr. Nibley's scholarship. Not one. He speaks as if he is using words that you don't understand--Nibley's volumes of "eloquence, scholarship or power." Hello, Nibley's sources don't check out. THEY ARE NOT SCHOLARLY. THEY ARE SPECIAL PLEADINGS THAT TRUE SCHOLARS (EVEN MORMONS) HAVE SHOOK THEIR HEAD ABOUT.
Murphy knows this, or he would go to a big library and check out those sources for himself. I challenge him to do it. As far as your "mistakes of men" quotation, Joseph Smith had ten years of practice in composing biblical-like scriptures. The long incantations used in treasure hunting with his father sound like prayers. These magic incantations even use "in the name of the Father and Son" and similar language. He also had practice at being an "exortor" at Methodist Camp meetings.
Note: The Book of Mormon is only one-third the length of the Bible. It's about the length of a medium-sized novel and took about a year to compose. Joseph Smith didn't have to write a single word. He had scribes take dictation from behind a curtain. First, he took two months to produce 116 pages, which were lost. This long length of time for only 116 pages sounds very much like the production of a novel, rather than a magical translation.
And why did Joseph Smith get so upset when those pages were lost? The reason is that he could not dictate the exact same story again. So, if you take those two months, the nine or so months that followed with some translation in between, and then the three months at the end, you get about a year.
Further, there have been at least 4,000 changes in the original Book of Mormon--dropping a lot of "and it came to pass" phrases and other grammatical changes. Thus, any talk about the Book of Mormon must be about the original 1830 copy.
As for Dr. Nibley, when Murphy failed to respond to my detailed criticism with page numbers listed, he did his religion no favor. Open-minded readers will see that he has not responded to fair and justified criticism of Dr. Nibley's scholarship.
Any book presented to the reading public is fair game for criticism. If you don't want a book criticized, then don't publish and sell it to the public.
The reader of this post may not be aware that in writing a movie script or even a novel there is such a thing as a "log-line." That's one line that describes the movie or novel. Writers jealously guard their log-lines because if another writer sees it, that writer will steal the idea and write his own movie script or novel.
Well, Oliver Cowdery (Joseph Smith's third cousin and a schoolteacher) came to live with the Smith family from Poultney, Vermont. A popular book was written in 1823 and published again in 1825 in Poultney by the Reverend Ethan Smith (no relation). Most people who study Mormonism are familiar with its pre-title, "View of the Hebrews." Immediately following this title is the log-line--"The Tribes of Israel in America."
Thus, Joseph Smith had a log-line dumped in his lap. Not only that, he came from a family with stories of Indian battles and sea voyages. His grandfather, Solomon Mack, wrote an autobiography about his sea voyages and battles with the Indians in the mid-1700s. He sailed to Liverpool, England, and on another voyage almost went down "to a watery grave." Joseph's mother had a copy and reproduced it in her own family memoir.
Guess how Solomon Mack's book begins? "I, Solomon Mack,..." Thus, Joseph Smith had a novelist's most difficult problem solved at the age of five. How do I begin my novel? Joseph Smith began with: "I, Nephi...
Like my detailed criticism of Dr. Nibley's book, Murphy should answer at least one of these statements. Calling a person an "anti-Mormon" or excommunicated member is not an answer; It's a cop out, and anyone reading your post will see that.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 3, 2011 10:24:38 AM PDT
Murphy's anti-Mormon and excommunicated accusations are unworthy of a good LDS person. I know at least twenty people who were active in the LDS Church and had strong testimonies, but left the church or became completely inactive (afraid of social rejection). These same people went on to live noble and honest lives. How do you explain that?
What about the woman, Tanner-Irish, who became the rector of the Episcopal Church in Utah? Or, others who have participated in humanitarian projects both in America and around the world. You don't have to look far to find such people.
Take Richard Dutcher, the popular LDS film maker who lost his faith? Or even Jon Huntsman Jr, who now says it is "hard to define" his faith.
It sounds like Michael G. Murphy is a religious fanatic with no tolerance toward anyone who is not in lockstep with his opinions. I know a lot of good LDS people, who are, in fact, out of lockstep with Mr. Murphy's opinions.
My facts are not "anti-Mormon propaganda" but just facts, and Mr. Murphy as a moral obligation to respond to the specific statements that I made. And that's the flat-out truth.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 3, 2011 8:05:19 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 3, 2011 8:06:41 PM PDT
Here are a few facts. How can they possibly be construed as "anti-Mormon"? Joseph Smith's grandfather wrote his tiny book in 1810 when Joseph was only five--twenty years before the Book of Mormon (1830).
Fact: Solomon Mack's book begins with "I, Solomon Mack,..."
Fact: It has vivid descriptions of battles with the Indians.
Fact: It has accounts of sea voyages.
Fact: On one voyage, Mack and the other sailors almost went down to a "watery grave."
Fact: Mack described his visions.
Which of these facts is "anti-Mormon"? Please respond to this question. Thanks!
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 4, 2011 10:39:19 PM PDT
Michael G. Murphy says:
Wanderer: Fact, you don't know me and I don't know you. You haven't answered my question regarding your own background relating to membership in the church. You simply stated you have friends/associates who have left the church due to various factors. I would infer they found information which shook their faith or perhaps they were of a homosexual orientation and didn't like that the church would not change its standards to those of the world to suit them. None of this matters to anyone reading a comment regarding a book. I just find it interesting since I run into similar such people and enjoy hearing their stories and sharing my own. Bringing up the lives of various individuals who have chosen to leave the church fails to make any point. You seem to infer that since people have made this decision that the church itself is false? As if similar stories have not been told of vast numbers of people leaving other religions and living `noble and honest' lives.
If you want to know my background then send an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and you'll see I'm far from the stereotypical born and raised LDS man living in some sheltered community in Utah.
Of course Hugh Nibley is a man and prone to mistakes. If you enjoy spending your time going through thousands of his citations to find fault then that is your choice. My mother is a librarian and I've spent much time studying a vast range of subject matter. I've found Nibley and most other LDS authors to be extremely enlightening.
I haven't read Nibley's books with the intent of gaining a testimony in Joseph Smith, The Book of Mormon or the Church of Jesus Christ. I've gained my testimony via the workings of the Holy Ghost. As such, my testimony is not founded on the workings of men and especially not in men themselves who are prone to error. What is to be gained from study of works such as Nibley's and others is more detail and background which stimulates the mind and provides context and linkages between the standard works and scientific fact and theory. The scriptures are admittedly and intentionally abbreviated with regard to secular matters, directing the mind to spiritual matters rather than how a hunter ~600 BC may have come into the possession of a 'steel' bow or how craftsmen ~4000 BC made glass or glowing rocks. Do not think to place limits on the power of God? With Him all things are possible. Nibley has simply performed the function of a file clerk, providing the reader with tidbits of information regarding references made within these ancient works. The topics for the most part are beside the point which is God's dealings with man and the gospel of Christ. Even if Nibley or even Joseph Smith got some points wrong (as far as our limited understanding currently allows), they have gotten so many things RIGHT that as Nibley states and I paraphrase: "Joseph Smith WRITING, rather than TRANSLATING the Book of Mormon in the year 1829-1830 given access to any and all available literature and knowledge of the time would be as likely as the construction of an atomic bomb within the same environment." No forgery could have gotten so many points right and on the first attempt! The Book of Mormon has and will continue to stand the test of time, only being further supported by ongoing discoveries and research.
So you want me to take the bait regarding your anti-Mormon 'facts'? You haven't stated anything I haven't heard before. These `facts' typically come in the form of flyers handed out at temple square. These are part of the same weak attempts to discredit the Book of Mormon which as you know is the cornerstone of the Church of Jesus Christ. Likely you copy/pasted them from material taken from one such tract. By the way, you didn't answer my other question regarding whether anything in the Book of Mormon contradicts the Bible? If you'd taken the time to study and prayerfully ponder the Book of Mormon rather than attempt to find fault you would find the book to only support the Bible and restore what has been deceitfully removed and changed by conniving men during its many revisions and translations over the past several thousand years. But you don't care about that. You seem more concerned about the little details that in your mind discredit the entire work and the man who was chosen to translate it.
Of course Joseph Smith, the man foreordained to open the dispensation of the fullness of times was trained and prepared to bring forth the Book of Mormon. That is a foregone conclusion. He also brought forth through revelation the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. I suppose you feel these works are complete fiction as well?
The sad fact is no matter how much physical evidence is presented supporting any of the standard works of the church people will find fault. This doesn't matter. Testimonies should not be based on science but rather to be gained with the questioning of an open heart, study, pondering and prayer.
Don't think to counsel me with regard to being a good member of the church. What could you possibly know of living the gospel faithfully for any length of time? I questioned your background because I've found that most individuals who choose to spend much of their time fighting against the doctrines of the church and attempting to point out minor inconsistencies, as they suppose, with LDS doctrine or personal flaws in members of the church are themselves former members. Why not direct that same level of scrutiny toward other faiths? Answer: because they aren't true. Do you feel they all together are incorrect? Do you subscribe to any faith? And hypothetically IF the church was incorrect and Joseph Smith was a false prophet, what then? Are any of the teachings of Joseph Smith and succeeding prophets to this day in error or evil in any way? Are not the works of the church throughout the world of merit with regard to humanitarian work alone? And what of these temples which dot the globe? What purpose do they serve? Certainly not the aggrandizement of any individual but God alone: 'Holiness to the Lord, House of the Lord'. The work performed therein of an eternal nature centered on love and family. What is wrong with such practices? These are the works of Christ's true and living church as taught by him during his mortal ministry and throughout the various dispensations of the world from the time of Adam.
Please don't attempt the worn 'Mormons aren't Christians' accusation. Christ himself seeing the 'doctrines of men, mingled with scripture' purveyed by 'Christian' denominations would himself declare he wasn't Christian. So far tainted his words have become by the sophistry of men for the sake of conformity and acceptance of the world.
Here's another 'Fact': Nothing you can say will ever in any way cause the slightest doubt in my mind and heart of my testimony.
I pray that you and others of like mind will put aside the petty counsel of the world and take a fresh look at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. People and even 'saints' are imperfect and have many faults. The fact is that the gospel of Christ has no faults. Rather, it is perfect as He and the Father are perfect. Have you knowledge of a better means of attaining true and lasting happiness? Have you answers to the greatest of life's questions: where did I come from, what am I doing here and where am I going?
I bear you my testimony that God lives. He sent his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ to the earth to atone for our sins that we may enjoy eternal life and exaltation. The Father and the Son and two separate and distinct personages having perfected, resurrected and eternal bodies of flesh and bone. Christ was born of Mary, lived a perfect life, atoned for our sins, was crucified and overcame the chains of death through the resurrection. Christ appeared to the apostles and ministered to them for forty days as a resurrected being of flesh and bone (Acts 1). Following this, Christ showed Himself to the 'other sheep' in the American continent (John 10:16). These people recorded this experience which has now come forth in what is called the Book of Mormon, he being an ancient prophet who was called by Christ to abridge a vast library of records of the inhabitants of the ancient Americas. Joseph Smith, as a 14 year old boy followed the admonition of James (1:5) and asked which of all the churches were true. Joseph was visited and conversed with God the Father and His son Jesus Christ who told him none of the churches were true, stating "...all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: 'they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.'" The prophet Joseph went on to receive many additional revelations through additional visitations from resurrected beings, eventually receiving the full restored gospel of Christ and the keys of the priesthood which had been missing from the Earth since the passing of the apostles of the New Testament. The prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum went on to become true martyrs, sealing their testimony with their blood only 14 years after the first publication of the translated Book of Mormon. We, as Father's children are heirs to His kingdom and His intelligence and His glory. The Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit who manifests the truth of all things. Through such manifestation I have gained an unshakable testimony of these things and say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
I suppose you may choose to discount my experiences and testimony as the working of a 'frenzied mind', being false delusions. I do not expect my short comment on an online book review to change anyone's mind, especially not one which has been clouded and darkened with falsehoods and twisted `facts' which have become seeds of doubt. Perhaps those with an opened and inquisitive mind; those looking for truth regarding the meaning of life and the key to true and lasting happiness will continue their search. A few good places to look are: http://mormon.org/, or pay a visit to an LDS meetinghouse during Sunday services or the visitor's center at most temples. You may also see pairs of young men in white shirts and ties with name tags. Stop one and I'm sure they would be more than happy to spend time answering your questions. You have nothing to loose and everything to gain.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 5, 2011 7:44:20 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 5, 2011 7:49:15 AM PDT
You wrote: "I've found Nibley and most other LDS authors to be extremely enlightening." As for Nibley, if you find untruthful use of sources "enlightening," then what can I say? Also, to preserve your tranquility, DON'T check the sources of those other books. You'll be sadly disappointed in your heroes.
My list of facts was not bait. It was just a list of facts. And no, I didn't get anything from the pamphleteers on temple square. I obtained a photo copy Mack's 1810 book from the rare-book's department of the University of Utah. Here's the first line (I couldn't post the actual page or I would have).
"I, Solomon Mack, was born in Connecticut, in the town of Lime near the mouth of the Connecticut River, September 26, 1735."
You seem to be describing yourself in using the phrase "a frenzied mind" about your testimony. I NEVER accused you of that. Also, all your huffing about your testimony doesn't really answer the question of why extremely good people would leave the church (and totally reject its doctrines) and go on to live praise-worthy lives. How is this possible if the LDS Church is the only true church?
I'm not LDS, but I'll say this. I regard some of the LDS people that I have known as the finest people I have ever met or ever hope to meet. And yes, I've been to at least a hundred LDS services and talked to dozens of missionaries. Also, I don't regard the present Mormon Church as a "cult." You've made so many assumptions about me. The LDS humanitarian projects are an inspiration to me (the Seventh-Day Adventists also do a lot of good).
Your whole attitude is contrary to what I've been hearing from a lot of tithe-paying, temple recommend Mormons. I think they would say you "protest too much." Religious extremism is often a way to bury doubts that eventually come to all people at four o'clock in the morning. This is particularly true of people who have gone through some hard times. We all know the cliche of the alcoholic who wakes up and never takes a drink again and becomes a born-again extremist (of whatever religion or political party).
It is also a fact that I have met born-again Christians with "unshakable testimony," as you describe it. Visit some of the churches in the Bible Belt and you will see (as I did). That's not to mention the "unshakable testimony" found in other religions such as Islam, Buddhism, and even in Judaism that God does not have a son.
In other words, such testimonies are sold on every street corner throughout the world. Nevertheless, I'm sure you're extremely happy with your religion, and it has helped you live a good and honorable life. I also have no doubt that you've done a lot of good in the world. At least admit the same for other religions.
As for Joseph Smith getting so many things right, this is a myth that cannot be supported by the facts of his world. His brother was buried within a hundred yards (less) of the Grandin Bookstore, and literally thousands of books were floating around in the area. The Wayne Sentinel for July 24, 1824 lists some 320 books for sale, including books on theology, geography, and travel. Most Bibles had maps in them of Arabia and the Holy Land.
Here's an interesting book available in the area: "A Key to the Prophecies; or a concise view of the Predicitons contained in the Old and New Testaments, which have been fulfilled, are now fulfilling, Or are yet to be fulfilled in the Latter Ages of the World," by Rev. D. Simpson published in 1795, 1800, 1808, and 1815. It would be a foolish error to believe that Joseph Smith had to have read a lot of books to create a new religion. Just like today, people told each other about the books they read, even more so in the days before the modern entertainments of radio and television.
Here's another book: "The Scripture Gazetteer; or the Geography of the Bible ... of the Various Countries, Cities, Towns, Rivers, Mountains, &c. mentioned in the Old and New Testament ....
(London, 1810), by Jonathan Crowther. Other books and atlases were widely available, including detailed descriptions of Arabia, including about its "verdant" coastal regions.
How's this book: The Periplus of the Erythrean Sea ... An Account of the Navigation of the Ancients from the Gulph (sic) of Elana in the Red Sea to the Island of Ceylon (London, 1805), by William Vincent.
NOTE: Books printed in London were sold throughout the United States in Joseph Smith's youth. The book trade between Britain and the US was some $2,000,000 (!) in 1823 (when Joseph was 18).
I'm not slamming you for your lack of information about the books available to Joseph Smith, but what I am saying is that you've taken what you've been hearing from LDS scholars as if it were gospel. In fact, those scholars have completely distorted Joseph Smith's world before the 1830 publication of the Book of Mormon.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 5, 2011 11:05:31 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 5, 2011 11:08:10 AM PDT
You should read the old newspapers from Joseph Smith's youth (BYU has the microfilm):
From the May 4, 1825 edition of the Palmyra newspaper: "Books Lost, Books Lent, Books Stolen"
Thus, the easiest way to get a book was to borrow it.
Mr. Richardson had loaned out so many books that he paid for the above notice in the newspaper to shame people into returning them.
The Smiths were listed as delinquent subscribers to the newspaper in 1826.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 9, 2011 10:26:28 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 9, 2011 10:31:13 AM PDT
Hi Michael, I wrote you at the email you listed, but I have not received a reply.
You wrote about things in the Bible that have been "deceitfully removed and changed by conniving men during its many revisions and translations over the past several thousand years."
Actually, it has been shown that great care and diligence was taken in the many translations. Take the copper scroll of Isaiah in the museum in Jerusalem. It reads like the Book of Isaiah today.
Also, you must acknowledge there is NO MORMONISM in the Book of Mormon, a fairly straight Protestant Anti-Catholic Christianity. Polygamy is even denounced. There is no Temple marriage, no wearing of special garments, no men becoming gods, no eternal progression, no baptism for the dead, no marriage for time and eternity.
So, if you just had the Book of Mormon, you would have a Christian sect. All the weird things came into Mormonism in the 14 years from 1830 to 1844 as revelations (Joseph simply answering questions put to him by his congregation or things that appealed to him--polygamy). These answers were claimed to be revelations, but have no logical relationship to each other.
After the questions were asked (think of them as scaffolding for a building) and the answers given, the scaffolding was gone, leaving only this complex religion standing. Then the devout wondered how one man could create a religion without it being from God. The actual answer is very simple, just like other people created complex religions.